New Music

Welcome to ESART - a Dear Colleague!

This is only "news" because I was away from the blog for some time following the India tour: join me in welcoming to the Flute Faculty at ESART the wonderful and multifaceted flutist Stephanie Wagner! We will be team-teaching there, in Castelo Branco from here on out!

I am very honored that Stephanie is able to put her wide-ranging professional experience at the service of the class, with a complementary angle to mine! Together, we have already "produced" four editions of the Summer Flute Academy (which was her brainchild!) along with our terrific colleague Raquel Lima of ESMAE, so we are enjoying extending the collaboration throughout the school year!

Stephanie, a native of Lisbon, has held orchestral positions in Germany, performed piccolo with the London Symphony Orchestra, studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston, USA, and the Hochschüle in Munich, Germany. She has now been the flutist with the Remix Ensemble-Casa da Música in Porto for over ten years! You can check out all her activities on her site!

She is also a longtime Powell Flutes player, both C flute and the piccolo in the photo below! And she is the Portuguese rep for Kingma Flutes, playing the Kingma alto, bass and contrabass with Remix. We have a love for new music in common; composers should check out her "UnlimitedFlutes" project!

Anyway, this weekend we'll be doing a "flute marathon" with the ESART class—photos forthcoming!

 Powell Flutist Stephanie Wagner, with the smallest flute of her collection!

Powell Flutist Stephanie Wagner, with the smallest flute of her collection!

Lunch & News from Scherzo Editions!

Between rehearsals for Donizetti's opera based on the true story of Anne Boleyn, "Anna Bolena", I had a delightful lunch with João Vidinha, who is an outstanding flutist as well as the owner/founder of Scherzo Editions, the up-and-coming Portuguese music publisher/editor. 

It was, as always, great to catch up! Scherzo is "on a roll", having received a 1st Prize in the most recent "Newly Published Music" Competition of the (American) National Flute Association with "O motivo da menina laite" by André M. Santos for solo flute. This puts Scherzo on a par with renowned music publishers such as Theodor Presser and Universal Editions, which have been in existence for over 100 years!

I received my order for some of the latest items from Scherzo for flute, or flutes, and it was exciting to see Scherzo's catalog growing; it now includes works by Ricardo Matosinhos, Wilson Tanner Smith, Nuno Peixoto de Pinho, and two by Jorge F. P. Ramos—all of which come out of the Summer Flute Academy's Composition Competition! There are also works for flute by Sílva Mendonça, Fábio Cachão, Donald Yu, Sara Claro and others— you can check out the catalog on Scherzo's site. The composition talent in Portugal is second to none, and so is the publishing talent!

Scherzo Editions also has published all the commissioned works for the Young Musician's Prizes (Prémios Jovens Músicos) recently, and that adds a wonderful variety to the catalog as well.

Another day, another hat off! It's great to see well-executed entrepreneurial efforts based here in Lisbon—Portugal today; tomorrow, the world!

 João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

João Vidinha of Scherzo Editions, holding a new work by Jorge F. P. Ramos

DEAR COMPOSERS: 4th Competition underway!

Dear cherished composers: we are pleased to announce (again, better a little late than never) that the 4th Composition Competition of the Summer Flute Academy is underway! 

Our two categories this year are: 1) SOLO WORK for "low flute"—alto, bass or contrabass; and 2) QUINTET for a flexible group of five flutists. The competition is open to composers of all ages and nationalities. We are excited to see, play and hear what you send in, so set your imaginations free!

First prizes include a premier performance at the 5th Summer Flute Academy, recorded in video and audio, publication of the work by Scherzo Editions, and cash prizes. We are proud to be sponsored by Verne Q. Powell Flutes, USA, and Kingma Flutes in Holland, and supported by ESMAE and Scherzo Editions—thank you all!

All details can be found on the Summer Flute Academy (Academia de Flauta de Verão) site. Deadline for entries is March 20th, 2017. SPREAD THE WORD!

 Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Information available online in both English and Portuguese

Not to miss: Winners' Concert of the Young Musicians' Prizes—FRIDAY!

The culminating moment of the 30th Edition of the Portuguese Young Musicians' Prizes, the most prestigious national competition, now celebrating its 30th edition, will be the "Winners' Concert", Friday, September 23rd at 9:30pm at the Gulbenkian in Lisbon.

Happily, there is a flutist among the 1st-prize winners, the fabulous Mafalda Carvalho, who will perform the first movement of the Nielsen Concerto with the Gulbenkian Orchestra. Having been on the flute jury again this year, I can vouch for the very high level of all the candidates—and tell you that the flute competition (Senior level) was the most contested of all the instrumental competitions, with 32 candidates submitting recordings for the first round. So an extra bravo for all who entered, putting in hours of preparation and work. There is never anything to lose if you are invested in the work, even if you don't take home a prize, and much to be gained, namely "grit" and  experience!

Those not in Lisbon can hear the concert live on Antena 2, but tickets for the concert are FREE, on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early and DON'T MISS THE SHOW! And let's give all our flute-community support to Mafalda! I'll have more on Mafalda tomorrow; stay tuned!

 Mafalda Carvalho, 1st-Prize Winner, Senior Flute Category, Young Musicians' Prizes, 2016

Mafalda Carvalho, 1st-Prize Winner, Senior Flute Category, Young Musicians' Prizes, 2016

Portugal at the US National Flute Association Convention!

We're small, but we're mighty! For anyone attending the NFA Convention in San Diego, CA, put this on your calendar for tomorrow, Sunday, August 14th, 9am: the US premier of Portuguese composer André M. Santos's work for solo flute: O motivo da menina Laite, published by Scherzo Editions of Lisbon.

The work will be performed by American flutist Tracy Doyle, of Colorado, a winner of the NFA's 2016 Convention Performer's Competition, and a Powell Flute player. The premier will be Sunday at 9am, on the program of "Newly Published Works" — works whose publishers won First Prize for the edition—in the California Room at the Convention venue. 

I sure wish I could be there to hear it, but you can be sure that the room will be filled, and Portugal will be "put on the map" as we say. Tracy has kindly agreed to send an "on-the-ground" report from the Convention afterwards, for me to publish here on the blog—keep your eyes out for that!

Toi-toi for the performance (that's Portuguese for "break a leg"), Tracy!!

 Powell Flutist Tracy Doyle, with a beautiful out-West, Colorado background

Powell Flutist Tracy Doyle, with a beautiful out-West, Colorado background

Women Out In Front!

Dear readers of the male persuasion: please forgive me, but today I just have to write a bit about the rise of women in music, inspired by something amazing I read in the New York Times. Later I’ll write more on this theme, because although it may seem in this year of 2016, that women and men are pretty much on the same footing in the (classical) music business, I’m not so sure we are, truly.

Either way, I think it’s good to look back and see how far we've come, in order to not take things granted. Whenever I mention this subject, or certain historical figures, young players are often taken aback—hasn’t it always been the way it is now? The answer is, alas, a firm NO!

In any case, today I just have to mention a performance of a remarkable and entertaining work for soprano and small orchestra by Gyorgy Ligeti, called “Mysteries of the Macabre”, which was simultaneously sung AND conducted by the American soprano Barbara Hannigan with the Göteborgs Sinfoniker of Sweden. As the article mentions, moving from singing soprano to conducting is fairly rare, but to take both roles at the same time is—was—unheard of. Watch the video here (the work is a real stunner: modern, dramatic, but also hilariously crazy) to see it for your own eyes. 

Oddly enough, after watching this almost operatic rendition (what an outfit!!), I’m now having a hard time even imagining a standard performance, with a soprano soloist and a conductor! I’m crossing my fingers that either the work or the soprano/conductor appear on our orchestra programming; if it happens, you’ll be the first to know!

 Barbara Hannigan singing and conducting Ligeti's "Mysteries of the Macabre"

Barbara Hannigan singing and conducting Ligeti's "Mysteries of the Macabre"

Summer Flute Academy Composition Competition - WINNER!

A quick entry about the First-Prize Winning work from the 3rd Composition Competition of the Summer Flute Academy: "Traveling", for flute and alto flute duo, by Ricardo Matosinhos. The work is in four movements, each very picturesque and extremely well-written for both instruments, with a touch of extended techniques here and there, but very accessible to any listener! The composer, also a horn player, is now composing for flute, and all we can say is WELCOME!! The work will be edited and published by Scherzo Editions before the end of 2016—you can order it online

We professors of the Academy were particularly proud that two advanced participants gave the work's premier at our final presentation, in the Teatro Helena Sá e Costa in Porto, and extremely well and beautifully played it was! The performers were André Cameira, flute, and Patrícia Pires, alto flute — BRAVO!! Here's a photo of these two fine players with composer Ricardo Matosinhos after the performance. Cheers to all, and on to next year's competition, dear composers!

 Flutists André Cameira and Patrícia Pires, with composer Ricardo Matosinhos, center

Flutists André Cameira and Patrícia Pires, with composer Ricardo Matosinhos, center

Happy 90th Birthday to THE PROFESSOR

I've just discovered that the composer Karl Kohn, my dear Professor of Music at Pomona College, celebrates his 90th birthday today, so this entry SIMPLY MUST be dedicated to him. Professor Kohn was the towering figure of the music department for years, and for good reason. Born in Vienna he escaped to the U.S. with his family as a teen, was educated at Harvard, and has received numerous grants and fellowships, as well as being on the board of the famed "Monday Evening Concert Series" of mostly new music in Los Angles for 20 years. His works are published by Carl Fischer, among others.

At Pomona, he received us as freshmen: lumps of unformed musical material with extremely little culture (for someone from Vienna, especially), and through patient if occasionally dramatic means somehow, by senior year, turned us into near-musicians! (I suspect he'd have loved to begin teaching us at exactly the moment we graduated!). We heard Ligeti for the first time in a duo-piano performance with his also-gifted-pianist wife, Margie, and it was ELECTRIFYING. We discovered that Machaut and Josquin were just as clever as Stravinsky, rhythmically. We were taken to task if we turned in illegible work (pre-computer era): "You expect musicians to have time to try to read this garbage?" followed by the sound of your score being torn to shreds! Or, "you expect professional musicians to sit on stage and play 10 notes in the entire piece?? Write them something to play!". We eventually got the idea!

Now he is a Distinguished Emeritus Professor—retired with benefits—and is still busy composing and leading a life in music. I was honored to perform at a concert at Pomona last February, and in a way, knowing he was in the hall was all I needed to know I had to play my best. Thank you dear Professor Kohn, and many happy returns of the day!

 Composer Karl Kohn with Raj Bhimani, piano soloist and member of Syrinx: XXII in February 2016

Composer Karl Kohn with Raj Bhimani, piano soloist and member of Syrinx: XXII in February 2016

A Day to remember!

What is a FULL DAY? One like yesterday that started with the final presentation of the Summer Flute Academy, in which 3/4 of the program was music by living composers, with 2 out of 3 present in the hall! FANTASTIC new works—prize-winners of our 3rd Composition Competition—by Jorge Ramos and Ricardo Matosinhos (have I mentioned that Portuguese composers rock?)—the first for full flute ensemble, from piccolo down to contrabass, conducted by yours truly, the second a duo expertly performed by André Cameira (flute) and Patrícia Pires (alto flute). Soon the videos will be online at the Academia de Flauta de Verão's website for all to enjoy! Check them out! 

In the afternoon, I was honored to be a jury member again in the Prémios Jovens Músicos (Young Musician's Prizes) at the Casa da Música in Porto. The final round of the the Senior category was held, with beautiful and poised performances by all three finalists, with Mafalda Carvalho taking home 1st prize—CONGRATULATIONS! She performed Casella's Sicilienne et Burlesque and the Nielsen Flute Concerto. Put September 23rd on your calendar to hear her perform the first movement of the Nielsen with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon at the Winner's Concert—looking forward to that!